This is the kind of thing that pisses me off about our over-long, bloated-budget, poorly-scripted Jerry Bruckheimer film of a war in Mess-o-potamia.
Jesus wept, guys.
The freaking Iraqi jundi - typically a badly educated street rat or a tribesman right off the family date ranch - doesn't have the technical background OR the tactical skills to use a state-of-the-art M1A1.Hell, his government, oil slush fund and all, doesn't have the capability to keep them running for him. Despite the happy-fuzzy-bunny-wuffy talk from our Public Affairs Officer pricks over at the MNF-I head shed in the Green Zone Iraq is still fundamentally a Second World (at best) society. The Iraqi tankers had the balls - ask any Iranian or a GI from the first Gulf War - what they never had and still don't have is the world's most advanced technological base, the largest military budget in the universe outside the Imperial legions of George Lucas and a society and educational system that produces troopers with the mindset to keep highly complex and touchy mechanical devices in working order.
It's not just the PMCS (Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services) that these Iraqis won't perform; it's the Direct Support and Third Shop maintenance they won't have, the command emphasis that they'll lack and the real-world enemies they'll need these 21st Century tanks to fight.
The Iraqi Army needs simple, basic tanks, tracks and trucks to perform internal security, i.e. kill guerillas and crush uprisings by people they and their American papis don't like (and, yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Muqtada, pal. Sorry.) and fight potential wars with potential local enemies such as...ummm...Syria? (frightened silence) Iran? (Smouldering animosity) Turkey? (Indifference with occasional glances of savage resentment at the Kurdish guy standing over there looking innocent)...
OK, so the Iraqi Army doesn't really need a LOT of really new, fancy tanks. A couple of brigades worth of bargain-basement 1970's-era M60's would do just fine.In fact, the costs of the M1s would probably be a long-term burden and hardship for a small, relatively poor country like Iraq.
But damn if we won't sell them some smokin' hot new tanks with all the shiny parts and the little streamers coming off the handlebars. Because after all, it's just your tax money anyway, and what's more important? Some silly old highways, bridges, schools and hospitals? Or a new summer house for the two-yacht family and shiny new tanks for our bestest best Iraqi pals?